While most Indian expatriates in the UAE have obtained their UAE national identity cards, they are confused about how expatriates can get themselves enrolled in a similar national ID project back home.
Under the chairmanship of Nandan Nilekani, former Infosys CEO, the Unique Identification Authority of India plans to enroll the country’s 1.2 billion people to enable them to obtain the ‘Aadhar’ card with which will help them to avail of many government services.
NRIs are also worried about their inclusion in the Aadhar scheme because they fear that once included the Indian government plans to bring them under the tax net.
The Aadhar project aims to issue every Indian resident a unique identification number linked to the resident's demographic and biometric information.
The card holders can use the Aadhar card to identify themselves anywhere in India and to obtain government services. The number (referred to until now as the 'UID') has been named ‘Aadhar’, which translates as 'foundation', or 'support'. While families of expatriates who live in India are getting enrolled for the Aadhaar cards, the status of non-resident Indians is still not clear.
Indian Ambassador to the UAE M K Lokesh said there is no need to worry as NRIs are yet to be covered under the Aadhar system.
“The national id project is going ahead smoothly in India. The authority has already registered 200 million people. Nandan Nilankani told me recently that every month they are enrolling two million people in the Aadhar scheme. Despite criticism from various corners about waste of money, the Aadhar project is going ahead. Iris cameras, fingerprint scanners, face camera and other certified biometric devices are used in the process. This will be one identity card which will open the gateway to many government services.
“NRIs are not yet covered in the scheme. The first priority seems to be residents of India. Once the registration of all resident Indians is completed, the new card system will improve and strengthen the Internal Affairs Department. Family members of NRIs who are already living in India will be included in the Adhaar national identity scheme,” Lokesh said.
However, non-resident Indians are confused and concerned about thelack of clarity on the issue.
Madhura D, who is looking to change her residential address on her passport at the timeof renewal, said: “I have a ration card with my Mumbai address on it, but I was told that it is not a valid document for making address changes. One of the documents I was told was an ‘Aadhaar’ card. Unfortunately, I am not aware whether we can apply for one here in Dubai.”
According to the Unique Identification Authority, Aadhaar is a 12-digit individual identification number which will serve as a proof of identity and address anywhere in the country. Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident in India and satisfies the verification process laid down by the UIDAI, can enroll for Aadhar. Each individual needs to enroll only once which is free of cost. Each Aadhaar number will be unique to an individual and will remain valid for life. While the Aadhar number is not for a family but for individuals, the status of NRIs is still not clear.
“Recently there was a move to include NRIs in the tax net. They started a scheme to impose a tax on the service charge paid to remit money to India. This scheme has been temporarily put on hold but I don’t know whether these identity proofs will be used or misused by Indian tax authorities,” said Jaleel, an Indian national.
The Aadhaar number will help the holder by giving him access to services like banking, mobile phone connections and other government and non-government services in due course. Indian authorities feel that by using Aadhar cards, fake and duplicate identification can be eliminated and it will ensure more internal security because it will contain demographic and biometric data about the card holder to establish his or her identity. People can approach enrolment agencies located throughout India with proof of identity and residency.
Common proofs of identity and address are election photo ID card, ration card, passport and driving licence. Photo ID cards like PAN card and government ID cards are permissible for identity proof. Documents for proof of address include water, electricity and telephone bills for the past three months.\